Gov. Chris Sununu has issued a statewide mask mandate for the state of New Hampshire. The mandate takes effect Friday at 12:01 a.m.
This mandate comes months after the bordering states of Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont issued their own mandates.
In a tweet thread from Sununu, he explained the reasoning behind his decision.
“If you don’t wear a mask into a store and are asymptomatically spreading COVID, you risk shutting that business down for weeks,” said Sununu.
New Hampshire became the 37th state to issue its mandate, though multiple towns had already issued their own orders. Portsmouth, Concord, Manchester, and Durham were among the nine towns who created local ordinances. The statewide mask mandate also comes the day after Dover decided to table the idea of a town mask ordinance.
The statewide order defers to local ordinances for enforcement.
Durham, NH, home to the University of New Hampshire (UNH), issued their ordinance in August. Their ordinance, a 60 day emergency order, has since been extended twice since its initial passing.
Durham’s ordinance has more guidance regarding enforcement, with some penalties incurring fines for non-compliance.
Todd Selig, Durham’s town administrator, expressed his pleasure with the recent action from Sununu.
“It is an inherently reasonable requirement given the increase in COVID caseload across New Hampshire,” said Selig.
As the order defers to local ordinances for further enforcement, Selig outlined what this means for the recently renewed local ordinance by Durham’s town council.
“I think the Durham ordinance in particular provides a little more guidance on how it’ll be addressed locally,” said Selig.
Gov. Sununu has been hesitant to pass a statewide mask mandate until recently.
“This is obviously a decision that did not come lightly,” Sununu said.
President-elect Joe Biden recently called on governors to institute their own mask mandates, a week before Sununu issued New Hampshire’s.
“I have supported local communities in their decision to enact mask mandates, but a one-size-fits-all approach out of Washington is not the answer to combatting this crisis,” said Sununu in an email to InDepthNH.org.
Sununu has since supported local control on the matter. Nashua, NH was the first major city in the state to mandate masks. Sununu supported this move, as well as orders from other communities as a means of slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The mandate applies to all indoor public spaces, but still maintains the social distancing exemption for outdoor spaces.
“By wearing a mask, you help keep our friends, family, neighbors and critical workforce members and those they care for safe, as well as our economy open,” said Sununu in a tweet.
COVID-19 has killed over 250,000 people in the United States, and 502 in New Hampshire.
Photo Courtesy of Josh Rogers NHPR